With all of the masking we’ve been doing for the last three years I’ve begun to notice that there is something private and sensual about seeing other people’s lips. Or is it just me?
First panel of the day was What Does Justice Look Like? (Christine Amsden, Jean Bürlesk, Matt Mitrovich, Su J Sokol) The panelists all appeared to agree that criminal justice should look like restorative justice and not incarceration or revenge. I really can’t argue with that belief because it seems to be backed up by facts and experience.
Economic and social justice could best be achieved by simply establishing universal basic income (UBI). Once again, experience and evidence seems to suggest that it is the best way to address so many ills of the world and would go a long way towards saving society money since eliminating poverty with UBI would end most crime and address housing, food and healthcare problems. How do we fund it? Imagine that every moment in any life has an attached value that can be monetized and the individual paid some significant portion of that value. This is simply redefining what basic economic value is. An accounting trick that benefits us all. That’s my interpretation of the problem, anyway. Most people including the panelists seem to be caught up in the delusion of money.
How do we achieve this new justice? Talk. Consensus. Action.
My second panel of the day was Viewing the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse (David Stokes, Jack Glassman, Randall Roman, Vanessa MacLaren-Wray) I’ve had the date noted as a scheduled post on the blog for a few years now. I need ideas and text to populate that blog entry, ergo my interest in this panel. Eclipses happen because of Syzygy: the nearly straight-line configuration of three celestial bodies (such as the sun, moon, and earth during a solar or lunar eclipse) in a gravitational system. This happens approximately twice a month. We don’t get eclipses twice monthly because the Earth, Moon, Sun system don’t quite line up, which leads to a lot of missed eclipses.
High ultraviolet and infrared light during low visible light portions of a partial eclipse is why you shouldn’t look directly at the sun without protection; at least until totality is achieved. Then you can look directly at it. Your pain sensors in your eyes protect you from overexposing and destroying your retinas during normal sunlight, however you can blind yourself by looking at a partial eclipse without ever feeling any pain.
So wear those protective lenses. There is a list of approved vendors on the American Astronomical Society website. One of the panelists had a handful of Rainbow Symphony give away glasses to pass out, the same kind of glasses that he hands out at eclipse events while performing his duties as a professor. He teased us with an image of the Coronado personal solar telescope. I’d still rather have a regular telescope and I’ll use the sun filters that come with one of those to look at the sun. A twofer.
There will be an annular eclipse in mid-October 2023, a preview of the total eclipse that will happen 177 days later in April of 2024. If you go to Albuquerque to see it you can ride in a balloon at the balloon festival and witness it, if that is your kind of thing.
The Wife and I broke down her art show display and packed it up for transport back to Austin. Very little art going back with us, which is the kind of thing you want to happen when you bring art to sell at a convention. We aren’t going to break even on this trip but we did sell enough to cover part of the costs at least.
After I finished lugging all the art back up to the room, I popped in to catch the last half of What Is Our Climate Future? (Angeli Primlani, Eli K.P. William, Mike Fortner, Vincent Docherty) I don’t know what was talked about before I got there but they seemed to be hung up on why mass transit sucks so bad in the US when it clearly works pretty much everywhere else in the world. I can answer that question. Social norms dictate structural development. Japan has better mass transit because social norms value the collective in ways that do not occur in the West and certainly don’t occur in the US, not even in the largest cities. If we want to limit climate change by getting away from individual car travel we are going to have to change social norms in the US. I wouldn’t hold my breath on that subject. Better to hope that auto-drive becomes a thing and that we can convince everyone to value shared resources like public vehicle transport. It’s a dream I have.
I discussed one of the subjects near and dear to my heart with one of the panelists as we walked down the hall. I may have to embroider the catalyst that I had in mind for one of the stories that I’m eternally working on.
Then it was closing ceremony time. The guest of honor for ChiCon 8 was originally going to be Erle Korshak. He died a year ago in August. None of us would be attending WorldCons today if it hadn’t been for the contributions of Erle Korshak. The convention became the open annual event that it is because he and the other early founders of speculative fiction fandom rebounded from the first convention in New York city and set about creating a repeating event that has continued until this day. Thank you Erle. We are all in your debt.
Steven Barnes and his wife Tananarive Due were tapped as Guests of Honor after Erle passed. I have read quite a few books of his that he co-authored with Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. Their podcast is at lifewritingpodcast.com. The Glasgow gimlet won best drink. Royal Manticorian Navy won best party. That’s it. The show’s over. Hope to see everyone in Glasgow in two years.